The title of this post is a line of dialogue from Stuart Rosenberg‘s The Laughing Policeman (’73), a grimy, decent-enough policier that costarred Walter Matthau and Bruce Dern. Shot in San Francisco, it was an adaptation of a same-titled novel set in Stockholm. The blunt attitudes about gays and blacks fall well short of today’s p.c. standards, but very few ’70s films that deal with these cultures would pass that test. Policeman has been on DVD for eons, but there’s a Bluray being released on 10.18 by Kino Lorber.
The Laughing Policeman is a character-and-atmosphere film first and a big-city whodunit second. (Or third.) The plot doesn’t add up but it’s a fairly decent film. Realistic mid-range policiers with movie stars haven’t exactly disappeared but when was the last good one? The above-referenced line is spoken by Dern, playing a hot-dog detective, to an African-American dude that he’s hassling or trying to get information out of. Dern was more or less playing Brad Pitt‘s character in Se7en, and Matthau was playing Morgan Freeman‘s. Dern’s detective was a typical creation of that era, a grinning or glaring eccentric, half-weird, half-cagey.